Professional Birds

It was noon. I was standing on the elevated platform at Thompson’s Beach, above the greenhead fly belt, It was over 90 F, so I was astonished to see one hundred or so Barn Swallows perched on the road, in the sun.  Surely, I presumed, the birds would be cooler beneath the shade of the tower.  But these are professional birds.  They know what they are doing.  Mouths agape, the birds were thermo-regulating as dogs do, by panting.  Releasing heat back into the environment with each exhalation.  As noted, the birds were also quiescent.  It’s birds limiting their activity for the cooler parts of the day.

Most bird species also bathe frequently.  Swallows included.  So reader have you checked the water level in your bird bath lately.  You need not fill it to the brim.  Half an inch of fresh water is fine.  Try placing a flat stone in the middle of the basin.  Those steep sides are slick.

In summer you’ll find that your bird bath is the bird centerpiece of your yard.  Which reminds me, you are changing the sugar water in your hummingbird feeder, daily, right?  Mix up a quart of hummingbird juice and keep it in your refrigerator.  One part sugar, five parts water.  No color dye.  Flower nectar is clear and all the dye does is make hummingbirds work harder to filter and excrete the stuff.

Barn Swallows by Mike Hannisian



Pete Dunne
Author Birds of Prey and coauthor Hawks in Flight